“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
If you have ever visited the Reading Room of First Church, Laguna Niguel, you’ve likely noticed several bins inside – glass and plastic for recycling (used to help the Sunday School raise funds to send to Heifer International) and a few general barrels to collect back-to-school supplies or canned goods for Orange County Outreach twice a year. But, if you were to walk into the church’s main lobby, it’s possible that you’d be puzzled by the presence of a shiny gold pot.
Now, if it was a sunny (as most of them are) Sunday morning, perhaps you’d be distracted by the voice of a friend or the beautiful music pouring forth from the auditorium, but, once you’d seen it, you’d make a note to return and find out what this pot is all about – a task not too difficult as, frankly, the pot rarely leaves its post of duty. During the service, however, you’d hear an announcement encouraging the congregation to slip their donations into this pot in support of a local non-profit, chosen just for that quarter. And, suddenly, you would understand that the real value of this pot – and this church – is not in its gleaming exterior or even its burgeoning interior but in what it all represents – the opportunity to demonstrate love for its fellow-man.
First Church of Christ, Scientist in Laguna Niguel provides its members and visitors with many occasions to express their love, but the Pot of Gold is one with quite an intriguing story. Broadview has been the recipient of gifts dropped into this Pot, and we were curious to know more about its origin. We spoke with Diane Rose, C.S. and current Board President of the church. Here’s an excerpt from our chat:
What was the impetus behind this Pot of Gold?
Diane: Well, our church Clerk gets a lot of requests for support, and our members do, too, often from the same organizations. We can’t all give to each one individually, but we can give as a church. So, we implemented the Pot of Gold in 2008 to help us do that, and it’s been a great way to support local projects together, as a group, allowing us all the opportunity to broaden our generosity in the manner of Mrs. Eddy [the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science]. It also lets our community know that Christian Scientists care for their neighbors.
Are there any specific actions of Mrs. Eddy’s, with respect to giving, that inspire you?
Diane: Oh, she was so generous in her giving to her community. In particular, she gave shoes to children in her community and prayed to fill her neighbor’s well, among many other things. The Bible tells us, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) We asked ourselves, “How do we love our fellow-man?” And, the Pot of Gold was one of the answers that came to us.
Tell us more about how the collection works. How are the recipients determined?
Diane: The congregation brings in ideas to the Board, and we go back and forth between Christian Science and non-Christian Science organizations. But, we are always guided through prayer. The board has two 30-minute prayer meetings every month focused on a specific topic, and we invite the congregation to join us, virtually, in their own quiet prayer about the selected topic. The organization we choose to support that quarter is often selected out of this.
That’s beautiful – letting God guide you and letting everyone be an active part of that!
Once the decision is made, then, how do you let people know about the Pot of Gold?
Diane: Throughout the quarter, a desk announcement indicates the organization or the activity and invites the congregation to drop their check into the pot in the lobby of our church. The funds are sent out at the end of each quarter [charities originally rotated monthly]. Some of the recipients include: Laura’s House, a shelter for battered women; Caring For One Another, a caregivers training program; Petals of Africa, a school in Africa for Christian Scientists; Principle Foundation Disaster Fund; National Leadership Council, focused on Christian Science youth leadership; Project Hope Alliance; Adventure Unlimited Camps; Clearway Foundation; Asher House; and several Christian Science Nursing and Care facilities, along with our own Vacation Bible School.
One question other churches might have, if considering doing something similar is: Was there concern that donations to your own church would suffer?
Diane: Mortal mind [or false suggestion] always tries to find a way in. Our church is definitely not one of sameness. We have very stimulating conversations, but this is what keeps our thought moving, and everyone is unified in support of an idea when it is decided upon. We handled this suggestion, or fear of deprivation, metaphysically, and I can confidently tell you that our church donations have remained constant since implementing our Pot of Gold.
Isn’t that the way it should be? “…one cannot suffer as the result of any labor of love, but grows stronger because of it.” Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health 387:23
We are deeply grateful to the Laguna Niguel church for supporting Broadview, and its whole community, in this tender, loving, and Christian way. It certainly makes a difference in our healing work, and we are sure others feel the same!
For more information on this and other giving programs at First Church of Christ, Scientist at Laguna Niguel, please contact their clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org.